Where were you when it became officially official?
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 27, 2018
- Between free agency and the draft, there’s been a lot of talk about player fits. The Bears hope to follow a productive early free agency signing period with a draft that matches. JJ Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago explains why Roquan Smith is an excellent fit for a Bears defense that looks to have just upgraded at inside linebacker. A sure-handed tackler with strong instincts and a high football IQ is going to fit any system, but there’s something that feels so right about the Butkus Award winner being drafted by Chicago.
- I liked the angle that Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times took, writing that Smith is to Vic Fangio’s defense what Mitch Trubisky is to Matt Nagy’s offense. Smith is built similarly to Patrick Willis, a player Smith appears to have idolized growing up as a young linebacker. And since Fangio coached Willis’ best years in San Francisco, I feel like this won’t be the first time we’ll see that comp – it definitely won’t be if we continue to use the term “tackling machine” to describe Smith, as it was in Bob LeGere’s profile and run-down of the pick.
- The Smith love didn’t start last night, though. I did some digging and unearthed this piece by D. Orlando Ledbetter over at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Back in March, Ledbetter wrote Smith fit the new prototype for inside linebackers. If he is right, then the Bears might have just landed an absolute steal.
- Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly casts some doubt about making Smith the pick, sharing his belief that the All-American is a better fit as the weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 defense. Arkush favorably compares Smith to former Bears Pro Bowler Lance Briggs and Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks – both of whom excelled in a Cover-2/4-3 scheme. From where I’m sitting, Hall of Fame players fit in any system. So if Smith turns out to be a 3-4 version of Brooks or Biggs, then so be it.
- And then there is Dan Durkin of The Athletic, who dives into why he believes Smith is a perfect fit in Fangio’s defense. I suppose it’s all a matter of taste, but some of the video work Durkin highlights in a previous profile piece really shows what kind of oomph Smith can bring to this defense.
- Another in-depth piece from The Athletic, this time from Seth Emerson – who covers college football and the Georgia Bulldogs. Emerson’s piece paints Smith as a playmaker who made things happen everywhere on the field. Size doesn’t measure production, and Smith had plenty of it in his college career.
- Fun facts are fun, and John Sahly of Pro Football Weekly has five fun facts about the Bears’ newest inside linebacker. For example, did you know that the Georgia native shares a birthday with Outkast legend Andre 3000? Me either. And now we’ve both learned something today.
- Colleen Kane’s draft capsule in the Chicago Tribune highlights what Smith brings to the table and catches us up with everything we need to know about the Bears’ first-round selection.
- This scouting report from Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com is quite encouraging:
— Bernstein & McKnight (@Bernstein_McK) April 27, 2018
- The love didn’t stop with there:
Georgia boy lets go!!!!
— L8F4➰➰ (@Leonard90Flo) April 27, 2018
Bears just got a FOOTBALL PLAYER, the best defensive player at his position. Leader, hitter, baller. Another great Bears linebacker. A Chicago-style throwback: Roquan Smith.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) April 27, 2018
— Laurence Holmes (@LaurenceWHolmes) April 27, 2018
— Charles Leno Jr (@charleslenojr72) April 27, 2018
— PFF CHI Bears (@PFF_Bears) April 27, 2018
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 27, 2018
- There seems to be an overwhelming majority of support for the pick publicly. Judging by our interactions, you folks seem quite pleased with it. I suppose we can find some further confirmation in that 94 percent of responding voters gave the “thumbs up” when answering our poll question regarding how you felt about the pick.
- Meanwhile, I thought there would be more of you who were disappointed that Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson wasn’t even on the board when it happened:
I’m looking forward to the poll results here.
Are you disappointed that Quenton Nelson was off the board by the time the Bears were going on the clock?
— The Ten-Yard Line (@TheTenYardLine) April 27, 2018
- Somewhere, there is an alternate universe where Nelson is available and drafted by the Bears. And then there’s a totally different world where Nelson is available and the team still takes Smith. Could you imagine the reactions if that’s how it went down? Well, it sounds like it would’ve been possible had it played out with the Colts going in a different direction:
Even if Quenton Nelson was still on the board, I think the #Bears take Roquan Smith. They had their eyes on defense for some time. Chubb, Ward and Fitzpatrick were others.
— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) April 27, 2018
- As for the possibility of a trade, Pace said interest “wasn’t super strong” and that as soon as they knew Smith would be available, they weren’t interested in moving. Not only did the Bears have their eyes on defense, they had hopes on landing one of the absolute best defenders in the draft. As we mentioned, Bradley Chubb, Denzel Ward, and Minkah Fitzpatrick were each considered to be the best at their respective positions. As it turns out, the Bears will have some pretty solid offensive line options in Round 2 as UTEP’s Will Hernandez, Texas’ Connor Williams, and Iowa’s James Daniels are among the available linemen.
- Of course, the Bears could continue to add to the defense, as first-round caliber defenders including Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson, Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver, Ohio State defensive lineman Sam Hubbard, Georgia outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter, and Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry went undrafted on Day 1. Looking at it through the wide lens, passing on Nelson for Smith might have been the best-case scenario for the Bears.